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Abbath showing who the master is - 90%

Demiror_Moritur, January 11th, 2019

It has now almost been three years since Abbath’s solo debut self-titled album came out, and there are two very good reasons as to why I’m only reviewing it now. Firstly, I admit I wanted to wait until Immortal’s album without Abbath (“Northern Chaos Gods”) came out to be able to compare the two and get a better, more complete picture of who fared off better after the unfortunate break-up. However, that proved to be of no help, because trying to put the two albums against each other just made me ever more indecisive as to which of the two I like better, again, for different motives. I might get into that shortly. Secondly, and this has quite a lot to do with what I just expressed, I genuinely have been incapable of figuring out what I actually think of “Abbath” (the album), as much as I’ve thought about it and as many times as I’ve listened to it. I just couldn’t for the life of me make my mind up about whether I really even liked the album at all all this time, but I’ve finally come to somewhat of a conclusion, hence why I’m finally writing this review.

I can say I’m actually happy (or as happy as I can be with this otherwise undesirable situation taking place, at least) about Abbath and the rest of Immortal parting ways, because the end result has ultimately resulted in me getting more music than I would have gotten had they remained together as a collective. As cynical as that may sound, I’ve even grown to appreciate the “competition” between the former bandmates in my indecisiveness. It’s sort of become fun to witness, not just the musical aspect of the matter, but the fan reaction as well, as it’s pretty clear most people are torn between the two and wouldn’t possibly stand for both bands, instead forcefully supporting either or. If I had to pick a side I’d undoubtedly side with Abbath since I believe he has always been the main lead figure in Immortal, and the most indispensable member of the band. However, I obviously don’t have to pick any side, and I can enjoy both bands’ work. I’d also like to note that I thought Immortal’s “Northern Chaos Gods” was a great album, and they obviously can hold their own when daddy Abbath isn’t home. That being said, Abbath will always reign supreme, not just because of his track record as one of the originals in the early Norwegian black metal scene, but also for his brilliant and charismatic personality. His work ethic and determination both shine through on this album.

“Abbath” has been a polarizing record for me because, without me wanting to compare it to Immortal since it actually has little in common, it doesn’t sound all that much to Abbath’s previous work in some ways. It’s a very potent, large album that takes its time to express its musical components without ever getting tiring or boring. It has both slower and faster passages, and both these tempos are masterfully dealt with, resulting in a very heavy, thick, mighty soundscape that leaves the listener in astonishment with its power. The riffs sound great, they’re very cleverly thought out and put together. The overall instrumentation is fantastic, and everything is played excellently, leaving no room for slop or wankery, showing Abbath is clearly serious about his work, as this is a serious album.

Track after track, the pure black metal attack is unleashed on the listener relentlessly. There’s literally no filler on the album, as every single track is filled with different and varied musical ideas that are intended to shock and surprise, furthering the strength of the record’s black heart. The sound is very “round”, meaning, there are no high-pitched moments or frail passages, as everything sounds down-tuned, rough and rugged without making use of needless distortion or bad production, something that can of course only be achieved through expertise in the handling of the instruments. The good production on this album is something that can and should be praised, as it becomes clear how having high production value doesn’t mean your music has to be plastic and shit, as is the case with countless poser bands.

Hell, even the last bonus track on the album, a cover of Immortal's "Nebular Ravens Winter" track off of the "Blizzard Beasts" album, sounds better and more straightforward than the original track. It's as if Abbath had taken Immortal's sound and turned it into no-fun, no cheap thrills, mightier sound that makes it pale in comparison. In this sense, I undoubtedly have to dub this outing as an improvement on Immortal's sound, and can do nothing but congratulate Abbath on his undeniable willpower and creative potential with my praise for this excellent debut.

I think Abbath has come victorious out of the Immortal split-up, and this album is a modern embodiment of true Norwegian black metal that sounds very current, fresh and vigorous. I cannot wait to see what Abbath has in store for his second solo record, and I’ll be sure to support it and listen to it when the time comes.